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CBS chief dismisses Aereo as 'more wind than reality'

Les Moonves, whose CBS network is among those suing Aereo, shrugs off the online streaming service for over-the-air broadcasts.

Aereo antennea
Aereo's little antenna has caused a big flap with television networks. Aereo

CBS is among the networks fighting Aereo, but its chief Wednesday brushed aside the company that streams over-the-air broadcasts online.

Aereo is "more wind than reality," CEO Leslie Moonves said on a conference call to discuss CBS's second-quarter earnings, also calling it illegal. "We don't think it's catching on at all."

CBS is the parent company of CNET.

Aereo hasn't released subscriber numbers and declined to respond to Moonves's comments. Earlier Wednesday, Aereo Chief Executive Chet Kanojia discussed the company's legal standing during an appearance on CNBC. "Is our assumption legally correct? I think so far we've demonstrated absolutely it is," he said.

Kanojia has also said the company aims for a future in which one out of four people to uses its service.

Aereo, which is backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, uses antenna/DVR technology to let consumers can watch live, local over-the-air television broadcasts.

That capability has provoked lawsuits from TV broadcast giants including CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC Universal, and Telemundo, which alleged last year that the service violates their copyrights and that Aereo must pay them retransmission fees. Aereo says its practice is legit, since each user has their own dedicated antenna.

So far, the broadcaster's arguments against Aereo have failed to win the support of courts based in New York, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denying their request to halt Aereo's business while the case goes to court and most recently refusing to reconsider that decision again.

Though it has been quiet about its usership base, Aereo has been outspoken about rapid expansion this year. In January it said it would move to 22 total cities across the U.S. over the course of this year. It now operates in New York, Boston, and Atlanta with Chicago and Salt Lake City on the way.

Moonves's dismissal of Aereo may have something to do with Time Warner Cable using the service as a leveraging tool in fee talks with the broadcaster. With CBS and Time Warner Cable in a standoff over retransmission fees, the cable company has said that if its customers lose access to CBS because of the stalemate, it would recommend they turn to Aereo to continue watching the network's shows.